Idea and motivation

Jun 08. 2014


The Sailing Sclerosis movement is a quest for the meaning and quality of life. It is a statement that we do care and an approach that together we can make things happen. No one knows what tomorrow brings. We must live our lives right now. We must act today. We depend on each other. "When I meet my patients I am standing on the shoulders of giants," Dr Anthonisen said.

We want this project to be both a concrete act and a symbol of the way we want to act in this world:

  • working together in supporting and caring about communities
  • seeking possibilities rather than obstacles 
  • finding and developing resources in the individual as well as the group 
  • knowing that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

We want to tell the world that disability can be changed to ability, that we will never stop trying to improve life. We want to create quality of life and value through responsibility and commitment.

We will change the perception of people with MS by showing that: "Yes, we can still do it!."


Dr Mikkel Anthonisen says what motivated him to create the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation:

“It was just an ordinary day at the clinic," explains Dr Anthonisen. “Six patients were on my list. A few newcomers anxious to get their diagnosis and some were patients coming to control already in their pharmaceutical treatment.”

One of Dr Anthonisen's patients that day was Paul. Paul was 52 years old and diagnosed with primary progressive MS four years earlier. He seemed rather depressed, which troubled not only him, but also his wife, who was by his side. During the meeting they discussed Paul's present and former interests. He had retired as a blacksmith due to the weakening and ataxia of both his legs.

Other than that his arms and mind worked perfectly – apart from the depression and despair. Before getting MS, Paul had built his own yacht for the purpose of circumnavigating the world. He built an exact replica of the yacht S/Y Spray of Captain Joshua Slocum, who had set out from Boston, Massachusetts, on 24 April 1895 on a three-year journey as the first person to sail single-handed around the world.

“When I heard Paul's story it spontaneously burst out of me: 'You have to go sailing again!'", Dr Anthonisen tells in an enthusiastic way and elaborates: “This is how the idea came to me. For a long period I had been wondering how I could integrate my skills as both a doctor, a psychotherapist and a sailor and this was it.”

To all of the patients, the meeting in the clinic is important. But sometimes to a degree that turns their lives upside down.

“It is my duty at all times to be my patients' ally and offer them the best possible diagnostic tools and treatment. As such I am proud to be part of a clinic that stands out with global excellence in terms of both scientific and clinical standards,” says Dr Anthonisen. He continues, “I want to show that you CAN live your life even with a potentially disabling disease. MS is a neuroimmunological disease. But it is certainly also an existential disease. It is the confrontation with the inevitable premise that we all bear the seeds of our own destruction within ourselves.”

Dr Anthonisen elaborates, “The project is about living your life right now. It is about seeking the possibilities and options. Too many people are broken down by this disease. They live their lives in depression and fear. Ironically the fear of regression and death disables the ability to live their lives.” And Dr Anthonisen concludes with a quote by the world-famous Danish philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard: “When in despair, seek option!”


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw all the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover".

(Mark Twain, 1835–1910)